"It Chapter Two" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Andy Muschietti terrified audiences with his 2017 adaptation of Stephen King's famous novel, "It", with Bill Skarsgård giving a horrifying performance as the clown antagonist. His film resonated with many audiences, both young and old, and Skarsgård's Pennywise is straight nightmare-fuel. His performance in the follow-up, titled "It: Chapter 2", is just as terrifying and great, but the story lacks in many different areas, which ultimately weakens the entire film as a whole.
This film takes place 27 years after the first movie, with the Losers grown up and went their separate ways. When the murders in Derry, Maine start happening again, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the rest of the Losers to return to their hometown to confront this demonic presence once again. When Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Richie Tozier (Bill Harder), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Eddie Kaspbrack (James Ransone), and Ben Hascom (Jay Ryan) return to the town, they are forced to confront their own personal demons to ultimately take down the evil clown, Pennywise, once and for all.
The performances in this film are hands-down the best thing about it. The main actors had to take the roles that the child actors from the first film created for this duology, and portray them to the best of their ability. In terms of that, I think the actors did an incredible job of making it seems like we are watching these kids grow up and how they are as adults. They really embody the roles of these characters, and bring King's novel to life. At the same time, they have wonderful on-screen chemistry together, and it seems like they have been best friends for all of their lives.
Skarsgård is of course absolutely terrifying in this movie, and really gives the performance his all. He is able to bring back the same terror from the first film, and utilizes his most horrifying aspects on the screen. However, like most of this movie (which we'll get to), the story really doesn't utilize Pennywise to his fullest ability, and when they do, it seems almost cheesy or borderline campy at times. It's hard to determine if the filmmakers were going for the scariness factor in some of these scenes, or to make the viewer laugh during these "scary" scenes.
However, the kills in this film are pretty gnarly and great. They are much more unexpected and sudden than the previous films, as well as being more gory and disturbing. While the first movie tried to exploit the fear of children, this one preys more on those of adults to match the kids growing up in the movie. Therefore, it features on more adult themes, such as homosexuality and domestic abuse. If the first film was a rite of passage for children in the horror genre, this movie serves as a reminder that there is always that horror lurking in the corner.
The screenplay is really what holds this film back from being a very good horror film. Like the novel, the movie moves at a very slow and drawn-out pace. In that sense, you could applaud the filmmakers for staying true to the novel, but at the same time, it's extremely hard to appreciate them for doing that due to how mediocre the story was. Consider the entire storyline where they have to go on their own quests and find their "tokens" for what represents them in the town. Most of the movie revolves around this one storyline, just for it to be discarded at the end, and for the viewer to find out that it didn't really matter for the conclusion of this story. It seems like a waste of time, and honestly it cheapens the viewing experience for the viewer.
Muschietti and the brilliant cast from these films had something special, but they falter due to the drawn-out story that is in this disappointing sequel. This could have easily been a more terrifying and better film than the first one, but it ultimately just fails at almost everything it's trying to do unfortunately. It's not a bad film, but it's not really a good one as well.